Lebanon army says blocked entry of 1,200 Syrian migrants

07 Sep 2023 05:28pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. (Photo by Sam HARIRI / AFP)
Image for illustrative purposes only. (Photo by Sam HARIRI / AFP)

BEIRUT - The Lebanese army said Thursday it had prevented the entry of around 1,200 Syrian migrants this week, at a time both countries are beset by painful economic woes.

Millions of Syrians have already fled abroad since their country's civil war broke out in 2011 following the government's repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests.

Most of them cross the border into Lebanon, which the United Nations says hosts the largest number of refugees per capital in the world.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that it had "prevented around 1,200 Syrians from crossing the Lebanese-Syrian border in the past week".

It had announced on Aug 23 that it turned back 700 Syrians attempting to enter the eastern Mediterranean country illegally.

"The Syrian-Lebanese border is porous and the number of soldiers mobilised is not enough," a security official told AFP.

"Most Syrians come to Lebanon in the hope of finding work, given the unprecedented deterioration in living conditions in their country," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The Syrian government's repression of demonstrations in 2011 escalated into a civil war that killed more than 500,000 people, ravaged the country's economy and drove millions into exile.

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In the early years of the conflict, Lebanon welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, before banning them from its territory in early 2015.

Since then, many Syrians have used smugglers to cross the border and seek a better life in Lebanon or beyond.

Officials in Lebanon say Syrians have again been pushed to flee at a time of protests over dire living conditions, after the government in Damascus scrapped fuel subsidies.

Lebanon, which has been mired in a crippling economic crisis for years, says it hosts nearly two million Syrians. The United Nation has registered almost 830,000 of them. - AFP